Chitabe and Vumbura

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Apr 27th, 2004, 07:16 PM
  #1
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Chitabe and Vumbura

Has anyone stayed at Chitabe or Vumbura? Would love to hear about your experiences. How is the wildlife - what animals were there? How was the camp?
Thanks
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Apr 27th, 2004, 07:58 PM
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I stayed at Chitabe Trails and Vumbura in 2001. Great experiences, both. Vumbura is a magical place in a beautiful area of the delta. Great guides, wonderful experiences-- land, night drives, mekoro and outboard boats. The combo of land and water is phenomenal... we say cheetah (2 brothers, very relaxed around vehicles, stayed with them a long time) lots of wonderful lion experiences with 2 different prides and a lone male (sad story... his brother was killed outside the reserve so he lost his pride to 2 young males... when we saw him he was devouring a dead hippo (not his kill). We tracked these two younger males one morning (real tracking, the guides were great) and found the whole pride after about 45 minutes. 4 females and 7 cubs. We followed their antics (carefully and respectfully) all morning, and I got some wonderful photos here. Of course all the other animals one expects in the area, including lots of sable. Great birds too. Tents were the usual big WS tents...food the usual good, healthy by not gourmet WS food.

I loved Chitabe Trails as well-- tented camp on the ground, while the larger Chitabe was constructed on raised platforms and walkways. Chitabe was definitely more elegant, CT was like very comfortable camping (generally I like to be on the ground in Africa. I like the excitement of animals around the tent, and Chitabe Trails is a favorite browsing place for local elephants, day and night).

I believe, in keeping with the setting, food, bar etc was more elegant at C's main camp, too. Game viewing should be the same, however. In 3 days we saw 3 different cheetah (on right after a kill, for some amazing photos); 4 different leopard (including 2 very close, good sightings, one at midday, one at night); some up very, very close and personal with a 6 lionesses (very close...and they were on a termite mound, so I felt eye to eye with one of them). Wonderful elephants, here...and all the other regulars, too. Great wild dog pack too, right after an impala kill... Once again, this was super guiding, because these were things our guide relax tracked or "intuited" out given the weather and habits of the locals...these were not "radio" finds.
These were my first two camps in Africa, and I felt really spoiled to have such great guides and wildlife experiences in these 5 days. (I could only get in 2 days at Vumbura, and would have been very happy spending 4 there...with all the activity options. In fact, these 2 experiences...plus a stay at Jack's Camp, made me a totally AA--
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Apr 27th, 2004, 08:09 PM
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Thank you so much for your quick and detailed post. Hearing your comments makes me even more excited waiting for my first trip to Africa.
What time of year did you go?
I am very curious on what the floods will do to the viewing in this area of the delta.
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Apr 27th, 2004, 08:23 PM
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I was there in September... when are you going?
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Apr 27th, 2004, 08:31 PM
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We will be there the end of May.
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Apr 27th, 2004, 10:01 PM
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Wonder if we'll run into each other at an airport or a transfer flight? We arrive in Maun on the 30th, and will be at Mombo, Duma Tau and Kwetsani. I really considered going back to Vumbura instead of Kwetsani, but everyone said "do a new camp". Kwetsani is supposed to have about the same mix of water and land activities, but is in a different part of the delta, farther north and west I think. But as you probably know, the flights between camps often hop around the whole delta, so we could be sharing a flight!
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Apr 28th, 2004, 12:02 AM
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Tashak
I also went to Chitabe Trails and Little Vumbura in 2001 (June for us) as well as Little Mombo and 3 locations in Namibia.
My feelings about LV were as yours about the main camp - it's simply magical. We did one game drive but as we'd seen so very much at LM we concentrated on water activities. We just loved the mekoro rides as well as the flat-bottomed motor boat trips. We even went fishing for the first time in our lives!

CT was also a nice enough camp although we personally felt our guide was a little less experienced and the managers (who I think were covering for the regular managers) were just not as polished as those at all the other camps we stayed at. But still very friendly and nice and the experience was nice enough. Incidentally we looked at main camp too and found that the tents are actually identical with the only difference of CT ones being on the ground and C ones being raised on platforms and connected by a raised walkway.

On our return trip we too considered returning to LV but decided we'd visit Jacana instead as the water camp for this trip, though we're spending 3 nights there instead of the 2 we had at LV and then transferring to our next camp, Tubu Tree, by water rather than by flight/ road. We are returning to LM and also including Gudigwa, Savuti and Jack's Camp in our Bots itinerary.
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Apr 28th, 2004, 04:25 AM
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Tashak - we will just miss you. We are also going to Duma Tua.

Can you pay for tips with travelers checks or do we need cash?

Kavay - thank for your experience! What are the mekoro rides like? Is it like a canoe? Do you see varied animals or mostly hippos? Do they have life jackets? How deep is the water?

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Apr 28th, 2004, 04:49 AM
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Strongly recommend you use cash for tips. Since many places these days charge fees for changing travelers checks, it wouldn't be nice to put this expense in the hands of the person/s you are tipping.

Consider getting sufficient Pula at an ATM in Maun to cover your tips. But USD will do just fine for whomever you plan to tip. Take lots of USD in small denominations USD $1s, $5s, $10s $20s - for this purpose.
 
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Apr 28th, 2004, 05:38 AM
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Jackie, my description of a mokoro ride has long been "Botswana's version of a Gondola journey". You can also picture an Oxford punt if you like.

The mokoro is essentially a narrow canoe. Some camps use plastic moulded ones instead of the real deal because they can only be made from a certain tree and since the demand from tourism is much higher than the demand would be from the original bushmen who created them it would have too much of an ecological impact to cut down that many of this tree.

Anyway, there is one poler per mokoro - he stands at the back. The mokoro can seat inside it either one or two passengers - we are quite heavy so had one mokoro each. They have little seat backs within the body of the mokoro.

And then you just sit back and glide through the calm Delta waters. You'll pass through narrow waterways lined with papyrus plants and reeds, lilies floating on the surface. You'll also pass through wider open areas of water too.

We didn't see much in terms of game - mostly birds - thats what we were keen to see from this kind of vantage point. But some travellers do certainly see hippos, elephant (on the little islands between the water) and other game.

I'd suggest taking a plastic bag for your rucksack to sit upon/ in and a mosquito head net or scarf to cover your neck and as much of your face as you can manage - there are a lot of insects out there and Liz has recently posted that the high waters mean even more insects than usual.

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Apr 28th, 2004, 05:52 AM
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Kavey-- what coincidences! Yes, I agree, that CT managers were perfectly fine, but a little less "polished" than at other camps. However I was at CT on/around Sept. 11, and they were dealing with the fallout of that-- and did this very, very, very well. So I wondered if that upset things a bit. I imagine that could change their typical operations. In fact, they put together a really wonderful "memorial" dinner on Sept. 12--the staff doing gospel songs, etc. Very moving and supportive to us. During that time I ended up visiting Chitabe main camp at night (to listen to their shortwave-- CT had none) and met the regular management there. I thought they were really super. But of course managers change at all these camps, so not sure who is there now. However at both camps I had super guides-- Relax at Chitabe Trails and Kay at Vumbura. Wonder where they are now?

And thanks for the mosquito headnet reminder-- I'll throw those in...

Jackie-- absolutely right about cash for tips. Also, since WS uses tip boxes (they divvy up the proceeds)for general camp staff, you might not need as many $1 bills as you would think. But you will need some...
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Apr 28th, 2004, 06:30 AM
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Yeah they do seem to change managers regularly - probably good practice for them to do that.

Can't wait to get back there - am working on my packing list etc right now!

Finally booked 2nd lot of car hire just a couple of hours ago!
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